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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

2-26-24 PDF
February 26, 2024
An inside look at Bobby B. Beacon’s insides. Illustrated by Bianca Oppedisano/ Mass Media Staff.
Bobby's Inside Story
February 26, 2024

Interview with American Authors

Photo+Editor+Christian+Arthur+interviewed+Zach+Barnett%2C+lead+singer+of+American+Authors%2C+about+the+bands+newest+album%2C+favorite+Boston+bars%2C+and+what+its+like+to+come+back+to+their+old+stomping+grounds+of+Berklee+College+of+Music%2C+where+the+band+met.

Photo Editor Christian Arthur interviewed Zach Barnett, lead singer of American Authors, about the band’s newest album, favorite Boston bars, and what it’s like to come back to their old stomping grounds of Berklee College of Music, where the band met.

The band American Authors is best known for their hit single, “Best Day Of My Life,” whose music video currently has close to 100 million views on Youtube. We caught up with lead singer Zac Barnett to talk about their upcoming album, “This Is What I Live For,” and to reflect on the city that birthed the band: Boston.
MM: Are the band mates the American authors referenced in the band name or is the name alluding to other authors?
ZB: It’s all about where we come from, different parts of the country, growing up from different backgrounds. [The name] ties into our music and the different stories that we tell.
MM: Who are you influenced by as the lyricist?
ZB: I grew up listening to Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young–[they] were a big one. Tom Petty. Obviously Bob Dylan. A lot of modern stuff–Death Cab for Cutie. Ben Gibbard is one of my favorite lyricists.
MM: Some tracks from your new LP, “What We Live For,” are teased on iTunes. The song ”Pride” has afro-influence, banjo is prominent on “Go Big or Go Home,” and it’s all infused with this huge, energetic, modern pop rock sound. But in your words, what can we expect of the new album?
ZB: You can expect our heart and soul poured out, and us really just trying to take the songwriting to the next level. We wanted keep a lot of the same things that people liked from the first album, but go one step further–bigger vocal harmonies, bigger vocal loops, sampling. We kept a lot of the same percussion, and instruments like mandolins and banjos, but also went back to our roots with piano.
MM: Given the track list of the album, your band’s name, your rapid popularity––I wonder if this will be a very American album, about dreams and success, but also possessing a sort of confidence. What do you think about this assessment?
ZB: Our first album really dealt with where we came from, while this one deals with the things we still want to do and accomplish. I feel like for us, we always needed to work a little bit harder. Nothing came easy for us. Even though we had the success of [“Best Day of My Life”], we still have to be out there grinding. It’s not like we were handed a single like that.
MM: Would you say there is an underlying positivity to your band’s music?
ZB: We keep hope in the darkest times and when things are down. We’ve never been those people to let it completely get to us, let it completely stop what we are doing. We’re never going to quit in the dark times.
MM: The band formed in Boston while you guys attended Berklee College of Music. Were these years formative, and if so, is the effect still felt today?
ZB: Totally, man. Boston is where we first started playing, putting together our own shows, and releasing our own albums. We were figuring out who we were as musicians and stylistically what we wanted to do as a band. Without Boston, we wouldn’t know each other or be the band that we are today.
MM: Did you live in the usual student neighborhoods? Where did you go to hangout and eat?
ZB: I lived in Back Bay for four years, then I lived in Allston. Our Back Bay spot was The Pour House. I look back on it now and remember my order: a PBR tall boy in a big mug and the Texas burger. That thing has like, three patties. I look back and I’m like “God, what was I doing? How was I not huge and overweight?” In Allston, we went everywhere–Deep Ellum, Silhouette. I’m stoked to play Brighton Music Hall [on April 25] because we used to play there all the time when it was Harper’s Ferry.
MM: Is it nice to return? Do you get a good reception?
ZB: Yeah, it’s nice. We still have a lot of friends there. It’s always so nostalgic. It’s also really cool to see the new bands. Some kids come to our shows and don’t even know we went to school [in Boston].
MM: Anything else big happening this summer?
ZB: We will pretty much be on tour forever now, so check out americanauthors.com, or hit us up on Twitter, @aauthorsmusic, or Facebook. We have a bunch of festivals booked. We’re gunna be out. We’re really excited about the album and to share it with people–“What We Live For,” May 13.
This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.